The Institute for Supply Management released its Chicago purchasing managers' index on Tuesday. The index climbed to 46.3 in March from 45.8 in February, missing expectations for a rise to 52.5.
A reading below the 50 mark indicates contraction.
The harsh weather and labour problems at West Coast ports weighed on the index.
Only employment subindex was above 50, while production, new orders, order backlog and supplier deliveries were below 50.